Situated in northern Taipei, Beitou is famous for hot springs. Under Japanese rule, the Japanese built public bathhouses and fancy retreats for the emperor in this area. During the time when the U.S. military was stationed in Taiwan, this area turned into a red-light district.
A hot spring place that I absolutely recommend is the Waterhouse. The Waterhouse used to be a private club and is now open to the public. This is the only hot spring place that offers an outdoor, open-air yet private hot tub. You do need to call to reserve on the same day and show up on time. There are only four rooms on the property, two of them with open-air hot tubs. (The room Aaron and I love I believe is “cloud 雲”, whichever is outdoor and bigger.) If possible, book the time slot near sunset when you get to enjoy both daylight and nighttime.
The hot spring at the Waterhouse is a low-acid white sulfur spring, so don’t wear any silver jewelry! Sulfur in water and air will tarnish silver.
[Dec 2017 Update: Waterhouse has moved to a new location that will be announced soon. The original Waterhouse was took over and ran by Beitou Keienn (慧薗). I may try it out next time I’m home in February 2018.]
Aside from the Waterhouse, there are plenty of hot spring options in the area, from $1.30 public hot tub for two hours to $1,000 a night hotel room with hot spring at Beitou Kagaya (加賀屋).
Villa 32 is another good option with semi-open space. It’s a bit more expensive than the Water House. Reserving a room is encouraged and yet somewhat annoying. In addition to making a phone call, you’ll have to fill out and email back a signed credit card authorization form. The ceiling of the shower and hot tub area allows natural light coming from above. Villa 32 has amazing service and yummy tea cookies, but the hot spring water that comes out from the faucet feels and smells like hot tap water. That was disappointment to me. For legit milky hot spring water with a light sulfur scent, the Water House is still the best.
If you would like to spend some time in the area before getting in the hot spring, here is a suggested walking tour.
Take the metro to New Beitou station on the red line. Head east toward the Beitou Park on Zhongshan Road. First you will see the Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch. When on Earth named it one of the 10 coolest examples of “green buildings” in 2015.
A little further up the hill, the Beitou Hot Spring Museum is on your right. This building is a Japanese take of a Victorian style Roman bathhouse built in 1913. Near the hot spring museum, you can take a peek at the open-air public hot spring.
The next stop is the Plum Garden, a Japanese house built in the 1930s. It turned into a summer house of a famous cursive calligraphy master, Yu Youren. His calligraphy is on display in the Plum Garden. From the New Beitou metro station to the Plum Garden, it is about 10 minutes in walking distance.
There is an additional five-minute walk to the entrance of the Thermal Valley. The Thermal Valley is an outlet of a low pH level hot spring that gets to 194°F. Depending on lighting and humidity, the steam can make the valley look pretty dreamy.
New location to be announced
Beitou Keienn 慧薗
No.22, Yinguang Lane., Wenquan Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City 溫泉路銀光巷22號
Tue – Sun 10:30 am – 9:00 pm. Closed on Mondays.
(Call to confirm hours and make reservation.)
Walking from metro: Google Map “Xinbeitou Station, Taiwan” to “No.22, Yinguang Ln.,
Wenquan Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City” (Do not type in Waterhouse Beitou. That takes you to a different
Taxi: Take the metro to Beitou Station or Xinbeitou Station and then take a cab
Villa 32 三二行館
No. 32, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
NTD $2800 / USD$94 for 90 minutes
(Closed from June 15 to September 15 for remodeling.)
Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館
No. 2, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City
Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Free admission. No Shoes.
Plum Garden 梅庭
No. 6, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City
Free admission. No Shoes.
Thermal Valley 地熱谷
Tuesday to Sunday,
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.